Kelly and Betony are the owners and founders of ALAS, a socially responsible and impeccably made sleepwear brand. Their travels have taken them all over India via bus, train and auto-rickshaw in search of the most ethical and environmentally conscious factories to partner with. Recently, the ALAS ladies returned from a trip to Indian states like Karnakata, Rajasthan, and Kerala where they discovered different textile traditions from organic cotton farming to silk digital printing. We’re excited to introduce you to these stylish, exploring women today.
Darling Magazine: Why did you ladies decide to design ecologically and socially responsible sleepwear?
ALAS: For us, it just seemed like common sense. If you are going to create something, why not make a positive difference, minimize your negative impact and connect with the whole production process on a holistic level? As designers, we have a responsibility and we feel that for a product to be truly beautiful it can’t have an ugly past saturated in exploitation of the environment or people. Farmers, dyers, spinners and sewers are all integral parts of creating a garment and we all need to respect them.
…we feel that for a product to be truly beautiful it can’t have an ugly past saturated in exploitation of the environment or people.
DM: Why are the pajamas made in India?
ALAS: India has the highest quality organic cotton in the world, they also have a long standing tradition of textile craftsmanship and a huge need for fair and stable work. Producing in India gives us opportunities to work with people that have great printing and weaving skills. It is exciting to work with manufacturers that are trying to improve the industry, to remove exploitation from the supply chain and embrace a future based on good working conditions.
DM: We heard you just returned from a trip to India – what was your favorite part of the entire trip?
ALAS: Oh too many good parts! One of the highlights was visiting an organic cotton farm and meeting the families that live off the land. We met a lovely lady who described to us that her life revolved around the sun, moon, rain, cows, crops and her family. She was happy living a life without a shopping fetish or flashy car, she loved the simple life. It was incredibly inspiring to see how they worked with the land and the seasons. It was also a relaxing breather from the pollution and madness that engulfs all of India’s overcrowded cities! Every time we go to India and see the amount of pollution and rubbish, we can see that the west uses India as a dumping ground. It re-instates just how important it is to do things with the environment in mind.
DM: Can you tell us a bit about your next collection and how it is being made in Tiruppur?
ALAS: Our next collection ‘Telescope’ is inspired by the astronomers and explorers from the past. At the moment, the organic cotton is being bought from an organic farm and mill, also from the state of Tamil Nadu, and it is taken to Tirrupur to be dyed, printed and sewn. The range is being made in a little factory just outside Tirrupur. Kaarthik and Anand run the business, they too are in their late twenties and believe in a new India that supports women’s equality and fair work. We have been working with these suppliers and their 30 employees for a few years on a number of projects.
DM: How do you discover factories for your sustainable pajamas?
ALAS: We literally get a handful of contacts, hop in a rickshaw and after about 10 stops (asking for directions) we find the places! Sometimes it leads us to beautiful women’s co-ops in the middle of slums, other times we end up in large industrial facilities with state of the art machines. We need to visit the factories first hand to be sure they are genuine and share similar ethics, it’s not as black and white as “oh this factory has this accreditation” and so forth.
DM: You must wear your own designs. Which pajamas have you been sleeping in lately?
ALAS: Betony and I have both lived in the Celestial Nightie this summer; wearing it to the beach (no one but us knows they’re pjs!).
Follow up on our previous Embodied posts, here.
Images via ALAS